Leta and John Betor, former owners of the Starting Gate Bar and Grill on Ballston Avenue, have sold their restaurant to Patrick Duggan from downstate, who plans to buy the building and reopen in January.
Fans of the restaurant have written hail and farewell on the Starting Gate’s Facebook page, thanking the Betors for their five years on the downtown Saratoga Springs restaurant scene.
“This place has always been special,” Leta Betor said. “It’s the last real joint in town, where people come to hang out.”
For 40 years, Betor was a real estate broker, a career to which she may return after pondering her retirement options. She said she won’t just sit around eating bonbons, though.
Her husband has retired from his position as assistant fire chief in Saratoga and from the National Guard, where he was a lieutenant colonial who received the Bronze Star for his Middle East service.
“He’s a hero,” said his wife. “And no one knows because he’s so humble.”
John Betor now works as a strategic battle command trainer.
Betor impulsively bought the restaurant in 2008, planning to keep it going for three to five years.
“The building looked so lonely,” she explained, laughing. “I didn’t have any real experience in running a restaurant, but I took it on. I like challenges.”
Betor’s relatives have owned DeGregory’s Restaurant on Beekman Street since the 1930s. Her then- 82-year-old mother came over to teach the new restaurateur the family pizza recipe.
This recipe will live on in Duggan’s hands, Betor said. The new owner intends to keep it, as well as keeping on what employees he can and even keeping the eatery’s name.
“I’m so glad about all that,” she said. “And I’m proud of myself for all I accomplished at the Starting Gate.”